Aberdeen man explains why he took picture with EgyptAir hijacker

Ben Innes posed with the alleged hijacker.

Ben Innes posed with the alleged hijacker.

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FOR most people, being held hostage is a traumatic experience. A hardy few, however, choose to simply grin and bear it.

A North Sea worker who posed for a photograph alongside an alleged hijacker on board a passenger jet has said he took the image in order to “get a closer look” at his suspected suicide belt.

The picture of Aberdeen-based Ben Innes grinning while standing next to his alleged captor has gone viral on social media.

The 26-year-old said he wanted to “stay cheerful in the face of adversity” after the EgyptAir flight he was travelling on became the focus of an international incident.

• READ MORE: Egyptair hijacker an “idiot” says Egyptian minister

He was a passenger on the Airbus A320 on Tuesday when a man, named by Cypriot officials as Seif Eldin Mustafa, was said to have threatened to blow up the aircraft. The picture was taken during a tense five hour-long standoff after the plane was diverted to Larnaca airport.

I just threw caution to the wind while trying to stay cheerful in the face of adversity

Ben Innes

Most of those on board were freed shortly after the plane touched in Cyprus but the alleged hijacker held seven people hostage before the incident ended peacefully.

In an interview, Mr Innes, who was in Egypt on business, explained: “I’m not sure why I did it – I just threw caution to the wind while trying to stay cheerful in the face of adversity.

“I figured that if his bomb was real I had nothing to lose anyway, so I took my chance to get a closer look at it.”

Mr Innes, originally from Leeds, was one of the last hostages to be freed from the flight, alongside his boss, Brian Scott, from Ellon in Aberdeenshire.

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He said that once he had stood next to the alleged hijacker, he was sure the bomb belt was not real, adding: ““It was hard to be sure but after I got close enough to have a look I reckoned the bomb was more likely to be fake than real.”

Other passengers on board the plane said they could not believe Mr Innes had decided to take such a risk.

The alleged hijacker’s motives were unclear but Cyprus has said the incident was not terrorism-related.

The Egyptian foreign ministry said: “He is not a terrorist, he’s an idiot.”

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